For anyone out there considering a career as a digital copywriter for a marketing agency, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into and what kinds of skills you’ll need to master in order to carry out the role effectively.
Job specs are all very well and good, but sometimes it’s helpful to learn about certain roles in a less formal way and straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. In this instance, I am the horse.
To help you figure out if writing for the web is right for you, let’s take a brief look at some of the things an agency-side digital copywriter does on a daily basis.
Repping the English language to a high standard
This goes without saying, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it. If you want to be a successful writer of any kind, you must know how to write. Not necessarily how to write for specific disciplines – you can learn that as you go – but you must have a firm grasp of spelling, punctuation and grammar.
Researching topics that you have no idea about…yet
Be prepared to be asked to write about things you have absolutely no clue about! As a copywriter, you’ll need to be able to write about any given topic with the authoritative confidence of a pro. This all comes down to your research skills, which need to be on point.
Personally, this is one of my favourite parts of being a digital copywriter, not knowing what new things I might learn each day. I’ll level with you, you will have to write about some very boring topics that you couldn’t care less about, but you’ll also get to radically boost your pub quiz skills!
The internet is chock full of amazing (and useless) information, all you have to do is find it, learn about it, and carry forward what you learn into your own piece of writing.
Which leads us nicely onto…
Writing with originality and not as a plagiarist
For the most part, hundreds of people have already written about the topics you’ll have to write about, that’s par for the course. The trick is writing about the same thing with an original spin and without copying and pasting someone else’s words.
This is more than just an ethical point, the fact is that search engines will penalise websites that contain copy duplicated from elsewhere on the web, ultimately resulting in a negative impact on that site’s rankings and visibility.
The cool thing is that once you have written your research-inspired copy, there are all kinds of tools with which to check its originality. This is great if you’re anything like me and are paranoid you might parrot someone’s piece of writing word for word by accident!
Editing, editing, and editing again
The bottom line is that first drafts of anything suck. If you’re someone who is unwilling to re-do work multiple times if necessary, then you might need to rethink this profession.
What’s more, you must be prepared for client feedback. As an agency-side copywriter, you are writing for your clients, so if you think you have written them a masterpiece, but they don’t agree, then you are wrong. It’s as simple as that.
Editing and optimising your writing is an unavoidable part of this role, so you’re better off just embracing it and using it as an opportunity to keep improving your skills.
Changing tone, voice, and style daily
If you’re lucky enough to work for an agency with a multitude of clients across a variety of different sectors and industries, then be prepared to continuously switch between different writing styles and tones.
Being able to replicate the tone of any given brand is one of the most crucial skills for a digital copywriter. Be it B2B or B2C, you must be able to align your writing (including use of language, tone and syntax) with that brand’s already-established way of doing things.
Writing for a variety of digital disciplines
In addition to writing with different voices for different brands, digital copywriters also need to understand how to write a variety of different digital content, including:
- Sales & advertising copy
- Blogs & articles
- Social media content
- Informative whitepapers & guides
- Journalistic case studies
- Brand stories
- Product descriptions
Overcoming ‘imposter syndrome’
Writer’s block is a real thing, and even the best writers experience it now and again. At times, it will feel you like you have a serious case of the infamous imposter syndrome – believing yourself to be sub-par and not suited to the role. Ride it out, it probably happens to most people and that feeling will pass.
The great thing about the role of a digital copywriter is that there is almost always something else you can switch to working on if you’re struggling with your current piece. Come back to it later, the words will come eventually, they always do.
Taking good advice on board, no matter where you get it from
The fact that you’re reading this article is a great start, and it shows you’re willing to take (what I hope is) helpful advice on board.
There are so many resources out there, the best of which will be your agency colleagues who will have a wealth of information, advice and guidance that they can share with you. However, there are also loads of courses, seminars, and other materials out there that can help you master the copywriting craft.
Case in point, I learnt a lot about copywriting from the TV show Mad Men! If you’re interested, you can check out my blog 5 Things Don Draper Taught Me About Copywriting.
If you’d like to talk more about copywriting, you’ll be happy to know it’s one of our favourite topics! Give us a call today on 0845 450 2086, or you can email us.